The Question of Preshave Oil
Every man has his own shaving routine, whether it be an affinity for a particular shaving cream, razor or other product. While we firmly believe that a traditional wet shave is usually the best option, there are also a number of other methods that can provide almost equally good results as far as closeness and level of skin irritation are concerned. If you are just starting out in wetshaving, we have already done all the testing and research on the best products so be sure to check out our articles on the top safety razors, best shaving creams for men, first-rate shaving soaps, and the leading shaving brushes.
One such option is applying a small amount of preshave oil to your face after washing it (and obviously before shaving it). Although some men find this whole process a bit too messy, in truth very few other methods work as well at lubricating your face. Lubrication is vitally important when it comes to shaving, as it helps to keep the blade sliding smoothly over the face, which in turn leads to a closer shave and lessens the irritation to the skin and the chance of razor burn.
The only problem with preshave oil is that many of the better products can be quite expensive, often costing well over $25 or even $50 for a small bottle. Although you’ll typically only need a small amount at a time, the cost can quickly add up if you plan on using the oil on a daily basis. Luckily though, you can easily make the same quality product yourself by using any of the simple preshave oil recipes you’ll find below, but first, let’s look at what preshave oil can do for you.
Benefits of Using Oil Before You Shave
As we already mentioned, one of the primary purposes of preshave oil is to add a bit of extra lubrication to the face, but it really does so much more than just that. One of the major keys in getting a close, painless shave is softening up the facial hair, making it easier for the razor to cleanly slice the hairs off in one pass. This is the reason that you should always wash your face before shaving, as water helps to soften the hairs up. However, by rubbing oil into your facial hair pre-shave and letting it sit for a few minutes, the hairs can become even softer and easier to cut.
In addition, the oil also helps to nourish and protect the face, while many products (including those found in the recipes below) contain essential oils that not only smell good, but can also help to calm the skin and further aid in preventing irritation and razor burn. We’ll get into essential oils a bit later
How to Use Preshave Oil
Using preshave oil couldn’t be simpler, and although it may add a few more minutes on to your shaving routine, it’s definitely well worth the time—especially for those with sensitive skin. In truth, all it takes is dumping a couple of drops of oil into your hand, then vigorously massaging it into your wet facial hair (remember you should always wash your face before shaving) and letting it stand for a minute, or preferably two to three if you can spare the time. As the oil will leave your hands greasy, you can use this waiting time to wash them up (so the razor doesn’t slip and cut you) and to prepare the rest of your shaving kit.
One thing to note—if you’re planning on using a shaving brush, you probably don’t want to use preshave oil (or only use a tiny amount), as the oil can ruin the hairs on the brush in a fairly short time. Still, if you only paid a few bucks for your brush and want the best shave possible, then by all means, go ahead.
What’s In a Preshave Oil?
The most basic preshave oil recipes contain a mixture of two or three “carrier” oils, which are basically the oils pressed from seeds. However, we prefer adding a bit of essential oil to the recipe for the reasons we’ve already mentioned.
For those who are unaware, essential oil is a concentrated type of oil that is distilled out of plants (using very much the same type of still and process as in making hard alcohol). In addition to their pleasant fragrance (they’re what’s used in aromatherapy treatments), these oils are known to have many beneficial properties and have been used for thousands of years in various medical, healing, cosmetic and other purposes.
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Essential oils can definitely help produce a much higher quality shave oil, but not all essential oils are suitable for all skin types—especially if you have extremely sensitive, oily or dry skin. However, the good news is that using the right essential oil for your skin type, you can actually help reduce these skin problems. In addition, there are some essential oils that are even thought to help reduce wrinkles and aging, which is good news for you older gentlemen who are starting to become concerned about your looks.
When choosing an essential oil, be sure to look for one that is right for your skin type, but also pay attention to how it smells, as this is also how you will smell for a while after you shave. Some of the most popular options for men are definitely woody scents like sandalwood, pine or cedar.
Making Your Own: Preshave Oil Recipes
As we said, most preshave oils contain some combination of carrier oils mixed with a small amount of one or two essential oils. In our experience, somewhere between five and fifteen drops of essential oil per cup of carrier oil seems to be a good mix, but you can add more or less depending on how much you want the oil to smell.
Just like with essential oils, not all carrier oils will work well with all types of skin, so you may need to experiment a bit to find a mixture that works well for you. For this reason, we recommend starting off by making a much smaller batch than what’s listed in the recipes below, just in case your skin shows an adverse reaction.
When choosing a carrier oil, try to go with one of the more expensive products (preferably something cold-pressed), as these will contain less impurities and thus be better for the skin.
Although there are probably a hundred different ways you can make preshave oil, the following are some of the best recipes we’ve come across.
1 cup castor oil
½ cup olive oil
Essential oil (depending on preference) My favorite is Sandalwood sold here on Amazon
½ cup grape seed oil
½ cup avocado oil
½ cup avocado oil
½ cup almond oil
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup grape seed oil
¼ cup macadamia nut oil
In truth, we could never hope to list all of the various recipes here, as there are simply too many. Still, as you can probably see, there are many different carrier oils that can be used (and many more that we haven’t mentioned, like sunflower seed, jojoba, kukui nut, rosehip, bergamot, meadowfoam seed, etc.).
However, there are also a number of men who like to experiment with adding other beneficial ingredients to their preshave oil, such as aloe extract, cucumber extract or vitamin E oil. With so many different options, you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to do a little experimentation—trying out various recipes and combinations of different carrier and essential oils until you find the one you like best.
You don’t have to use preshave oil, but if you’re going to, making it yourself can be a great way to get a superior product that’s matched specifically to your skin for a much better price than you could anywhere else. But if you do decide you want to leave it up to the pros, be sure to check out our post on the best pre shave oils so you don’t waste your money on the wrong one. And if you are interested in more males grooming DIY, be sure to check out our article/video on how to make your own shaving cream!